Some 3,500 years ago, the Sechín Alto Polity built large, precisely planned cities, one of which contained the largest structures in the New World at that time. Such accomplishments reflect strong, enduring leadership, and we propose that the power and leadership role of these leaders was tangibly manifested by a unique, widely used architectural element and by a related symbol within polity iconography. The distinctive architectural form is a free-standing module that is omnipresent in power loci: temple, palace, storehouse, mid-level administrative buildings, roadside structures, and a satellite site. We also interpret recurring symbols within Sechín Alto Polity iconography as more abstract representations of this architectural form in its capacity as a power symbol. The essence of this "architecture of power" transcended time as the modular form was imitated by a subsequent polity.